tax information

Did you know that ALL international students & scholars must complete tax forms in the U.S.?

Yes, every international student & scholar (including F-2 and J-2 dependents) is legally required to complete tax forms for each year they were enrolled in the U.S., even if they do not earn wages. This page is to help you understand your F1 or J1 visa holder tax reporting obligations. If tax filing or forms are not correctly filed, international students could be penalized, assessed fees, and/or have difficulties renewing visas or changing status.

Important Tax Information
  • The Office of International Education and Services staff will do our best to help you to meet your tax filing obligations. However, the International Education and Services staff are not tax professionals and will not assume any liability for incorrect information. Students are encouraged to seek the advice of tax professionals if they have questions they feel are not being answered by IES staff. For more information about taxation regulations in the USA, visit the Internal Revenue Services’ website at www.irs.gov and/or contact a tax professional knowledgeable of nonresident taxes.
  • The taxation agency of the U.S. federal government is the Internal Revenue Service, commonly called the “IRS". The IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens is the official publication with definitive information on international students' filing requirement.
  • The income tax reporting deadline is April 15. You must have your required tax forms in the mail and postmarked by April 15.
  • The majority of SEMO international students will file as a Non-Resident Aliens (NRA). A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the “Substantial Presence Test”. This can be determined using the tax preparation service offered by IES if you had income. If you did NOT receive income, see Form 8843 in section below. Most international students and scholars are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.
  • However, if in 2018 you had lived and/or studied in the U.S. for more than 5 calendar years, you are eligible to file as “resident for tax purposes.” Please note the term “resident” only applies to tax filing status and has nothing to do with your immigrant or non-immigrant visa status.
  • There are no free tax preparation software services for NRAs. If you are an international student filing as an NRA and use a free online tax preparation, you are likely committing tax fraud.
  • Also, there are no provisions that allow a NRA to file taxes forms online (otherwise known as e-filing). For those filing as an NRA, all forms must be paper-based, signed and mailed to the IRS at the physical address provided in the tax forms’ instructions.
  • NRAs are not eligible to deduct educational expenses from their taxable income. If you are filing as an NRA, you can ignore the 1098-T you received from SFS.
  • NRAs married to another NRA must file their tax forms separately.
  • Keep copies of ALL tax documents. You may need these in the future.
Who is a nonresident alien?

A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the “Substantial Presence Test”. This can be determined using the tax preparation service offered by IES if you had income. If you did NOT receive income, see Form 8843 in section below. Most international students and scholars are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes.

What forms do I need to complete?

The proper forms you need to file are determined by factors like how long you’ve been in the US and whether or not you earned wages. The Office of International Education and Services can help you in a few different ways. Please read below to determine what is the best for you.

Your only obligation is to complete the Federal 8843 form. Below are two different options to help you complete the 8843 form. Each option is fairly simple, just be sure to carefully read all the instructions.

Form 8843 is not an income tax return form. It is a document required by the U.S. government for F and J visa holders to declare their nonresident status. It is also called, ‘Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition’.

You are required to file the Form 8843 and a corresponding tax return. You should have a document from all your 2018 income sources that detail exactly how much income you earned, what type of income it was, and how much tax was withheld. The most common income reporting forms are the W-2 for employment wages, and the 1042-S for scholarship income. You cannot complete your tax return if you do not have documents for all your income. (Please note, Chartwells employment is different than SEMO employment, and each has their own W-2 forms. So if you worked for Chartwells and in a SEMO office, you should have two different W-2 forms.)

Also, please note that If you had no taxable income as a result of a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home country and were not eligible to receive a W-2, please follow the instructions above for those without U.S. sourced income.

Options for meeting tax filing requirements
  1. Hire a local tax professional: There are several local accountants and tax preparation professionals who can help.
  2. Do your taxes yourself with Sprintax: The Office of International Education and Services is offering all students (and alumni on OPT) discounted access to Sprintax. Sprintax is one of the only online tax preparation services that specifically handles NRA returns. The cost for a Sprintax license is just $10, and will be billed to your student account. Once you have your Sprintax license, you can go through their system on your own. (Please note: if you did not have U.S. sourced wages in 2018, there is no need to purchase a Sprintax license. Please refer to the “if you were enrolled in classes in the U.S. in 2018 but did not receive any U.S.-sourced income” section above for information on how to meet your filing requirement.)
  3. Attend a tax preparation workshop held by The Office of International Education and Services: The workshops will be held in the IEP Computer Lab in the International Village on the following days and times.
    • Friday, March 29, 2-5 pm
    • Wednesday, April 3, 11 am – 3 pm
    • Monday, April 8, 9 – 11:30 am
    • Thursday, April 11, 1 – 4 pm

Registration and a Sprintax license is required to participate in a workshop! To order a Sprintax license or to register for a workshop, please click here.

Disclaimer: International Education and Services does not provide certified public accounting services. As a sponsor of F and J programs, IES informs current students and scholars of maintaining status and their civic responsibilities while in the USA, including taxes. For more information about taxation regulations in the USA, visit the Internal Revenue Services’ website at www.irs.gov and/or contact a certified public accountant knowledgeable of nonresident taxes.

Contact

573.986.6863
international@semo.edu
International Village Admin Building 101 – Located at:
1025 N. Sprigg St.
Cape Girardeau, MO

International Education and Services
One University Plaza, MS2000
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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